What should we bring and wear?
Bring appropriate gear for going on the water. In the spring and fall we recommend a lightweight jacket and a pair of pants. In the summer, unless it's really hot, you'll want a jacket or sweatshirt for sunset sails. If you're sailing during the day, bring sun block (not tanning oil which makes the decks slippery) and wear a hat. Any type of soft soled shoes, sneakers or sandals is fine. No high heels please. If you wear high heels you will probably need to go barefoot or you may twist an ankle. And if it looks like rain, bring a rain jacket! Lastly, don't forget a camera, maybe binoculars and your sense of adventure!
What about the weather?
For the latest forecast, click on the Current Weather link in the footer of this page. There is an old saying in New England that "If you don't like the weather, just wait a minute, it will change!" Therefore, we don't call off our trips when we first get a five day forecast that invariably calls for "a chance of thundershowers."
Some days it may be pouring in the morning only to be beautiful in the afternoon, or pour all day only to stop just before our sunset sail. There are many times we have sailed when it has stopped raining only 10 minutes before departure! As a result, a decision to cancel a sail is usually only made very close to departure time. Keep in mind that if you've purchased a ticket less than 5 days before departure and decide not to show up because of the weather and the boat sails, you are responsible for the full cost of the ticket.
We want you to enjoy your sail, so we won't send you out in heavy rain, thick fog or if threatening weather appears imminent. However we will sail if it's overcast, on and off sprinkles or in light to medium fog. Keep in mind that unfortunately we can't guarantee you a post-card picture-perfect sunset and that we won't cancel a sunset sail just because it's overcast. Over the years, we have had many enjoyable trips in less than ideal conditions. We think this policy is fair and appreciate your cooperation.
Will I get seasick?
We've got great news for you, hardly anyone ever gets seasick! We've taken over 100,000 people sailing and maybe five have been seasick. However, every day we must get one hundred people who ask and are concerned about it! It really doesn't matter whether you sail on one of our smaller or larger boats. The fact is, sailing is very smooth; much smoother than going on a powerboat. We shut off the engine (engine vibration and/or the diesel smell send some people over the edge) and the shore is always visible (often without land, people don't have a reference point). If you're still nervous, we suggest purchasing acupressure wrist bands available at most drug stores or ginger caplets which are an anti-nausea agent and are a natural alternative to Dramamine which can make you drowsy.
What about children?
We are often asked about our policy of having children aboard. Unless it's a private charter, we do not allow children under the age of six on any of our boats. Every child is included in our head count. Your child counts as a person, and there is a charge for every child. We do have lifejackets onboard for children but most of them are the stiff, uncomfortable, orange type. If you have a comfortable, vest style lifejacket for your child, by all means bring it with you.
If you are trying to decide whether or not to bring children, consider this: Our trips are generally quiet and relaxing. If your child is at the age where they may not be able to do close to two hours of quiet and relaxing, you probably don't want to bring them along.
Children are not allowed to roam about the vessel on their own, so plan on spending quality time velcroed to your child while we sail. You know your children best. If you think your child won't be able to handle the length of the trip, you are probably right. Many young children have sailed with us and loved it. However, some parents who have brought their children have ended up wishing they had not. If you have other concerns about children onboard, please ask.
What about food or snacks?
If you're doing a public sail you may bring a small amount amount of food aboard. Food on public sails should be contained to your lap. If you are doing a private charter and want suggestions on food and drink or a caterering menu, see the food and drink link on our Private Charters page.
Where are you located?
We're easy to find! Sightsailing/Aquidneck is located on Bowen's Wharf in the heart of downtown Newport. Bowen's Wharf is on America's Cup Ave just past The Newport Hotel at 49 America's Cup Ave. Put 49 America's Cup Ave. into your GPS and you will see the sign for Bowen's Wharf on America's Cup Ave right next to the hotel. You cannot drive onto the wharf; you need to park and walk onto it. If you're walking around, ask anyone where the Black Pearl Restaurant or 22 Bowen's restauarants are. We are located right between them. You'll see our house and big blue awning which says Sightsailing!
The largest and least expensive parking garage in Newport is at the city garage at the Discover Newport Visitor Bureau at 23 America's Cup Ave. The lot is about a 1/4 mile or 10 minute walk from the dock. There are also other lots and meters all over town. Click on our Where to Park FAQ for a parking map.
Where do we park?
Keep in mind that there are often major events occurring weekends in Newport and it can take longer than usual to get into town and find a place to park. If you're coming on a weekend, give yourself plenty of extra time. If you're late and miss the boat, we unfortunately can't give you a refund!
You have several parking options. There are lots along America's Cup Ave and Thames St. which offer a flat rate for all day and night parking, typically $10-$20. Next there are meters all over Newport. These have a three hour limit which is strictly enforced and are $1/hour. There is a very small lot here at Bowen's Wharf which holds about 20 cars. It costs $1.50/hour and gets full quickly. You can also use a very large lot at the Newport County Convention and Visitor's Bureau at 23 America's Cup Ave which is about a ten minute walk from us. There is another good size lot on Mary Street which is about four minutes from us. The rates at the Visitor Center and Mary Street are the lowest and there is plenty of space.
Downtown Newport Parking Map
What is the best time of day to sail?
It really depends on your schedule. In the summer, the prevailing wind in Newport is from the Southwest. It tends to be light in the morning, increase by late morning, build all afternoon, then moderate and sometimes die close to sunset. Morning sails are generally gentle, afternoon sails exhilarating and sunset sails relaxing. If a cold front has just come through, the wind will be strongest in the morning. This is more typical in the fall. If you see a flag flying straight out there is plenty of wind to sail. Sightsailer and Starlight sail in the slightest of breezes. Aquidneck generally needs around 10 mph of wind to sail. Keep in mind that unfortunately we cannot control the wind. While we strive to sail as much as possible, if the wind dies or is too light to sail, we'll probably start and run the motor so you can at least see things!
What about wheelchairs?
None of our vessels are wheelchair accessible. For more information see our FAQ on Minimum Mobility Requirements.
Can we smoke aboard?
No cigarette, cigar or pipe smoking is allowed on any public sails or private charters.
Do the boats have restrooms?
Yes, all of our boats have restrooms.
Is there shade aboard?
Not really. If you want to avoid the sun, we suggest a late afternoon or sunset sail. A hat with a tiedown and sunblock are good ideas for sailing during the day.
What about drinks?
Guests sailing on any of our public sailing cruises may bring a small amount of alcohol aboard with them, i.e. a bottle of wine, champagne or six pack of beer. No cases of beer, large coolers, or hard alcohol are allowed. On public sunset sails, guests receive a couple complimentary glasses of champagne, beer, soda or water. During the day bottles of spring water are available for purchase at the dock for $1.00.
Guests sailing on private charters may bring their own drinks, again no hard alcohol, or arrange to purchase them through Vickers' Liquors (401 847-0123). Vicker's does not markup the cost of alcohol and delivery to the dock is free! For more info see the Food and Drink link on our Private Charters page.
What about glass?
Bring plastic cups if you want them. Glass bottles of champagne, wine or beer are OK. Again no hard alcohol is allowed on any cruises private or public and no large coolers or cases of beer are allowed on public sails.
Can I steer the boat and help sail?
Unless it's extremely windy or the bay is very congested, we encourage anyone who wants to take the wheel and sail our boats. Discover sailing in Newport the sailing capital of the U.S. It's a thrill and a great picture-taking opportunity!
Do you allow dogs?
Sorry, but with the exception of guide dogs for the visually impaired, we do not allow dogs under any circumstances.
When do tickets for public sails go on sale?
Tickets for Public Sails on Aquidneck go on sale 14 days before departure. Tickets for Public Sails on Sightsailer go on sale 7 days before departure. Private Charters on any of the boats including Starlight, may be booked year round.
What's your cancellation policy?
Public Sails: Tickets may be cancelled up to 5 days before sailing and rescheduled or a 100% refund received. Less than 5 days before sailing your tickets are refundable only if we cancel your sail due to weather or a mechanical issue.
Private Charters: Charters may be cancelled up to 10 days before sailing and rescheduled or a 100% refund received. Less than 10 days before sailing your charter is refundable only if we cancel your sail due to weather or a mechanical issue.
We want you to enjoy your sail, so we won't send you out in rain, thick fog or if threatening weather appears imminent. However we will sail if it's overcast, on and off sprinkles or in light to medium fog. Keep in mind that unfortunately we can't guarantee you a post-card picture-perfect sunset and that we won't cancel a sunset sail just because it's overcast. Also, we cannot control the wind. Over the years, we have had many enjoyable trips in less than ideal conditions. We think this policy is fair and appreciate your cooperation.
Minimum Mobility Requirements
None of our boats are wheelchair accessible.To get on and off Aquidneck and Sightsailer, a person needs to be able to walk unassisted down a steep ramp, then about 40 feet down a floating, wobbly dock, up 5 steps with a rail , step up and over a 14 inch step and into the boat. You also need to go down the stairs at the end of the trip and the wobbly dock.
To get on and off Starlight you need to be able to go up and down a fixed ladder with narrow rungs. Unless you can go up and down a ladder unassisted a person with a disability cannot sail on Starlight.
Our boats are really not suited to anyone with mobility issues. We suggest calling Sail to Prevail in Newport which operates sailing vessels specially designed to accomodate people with these issues. Their number is 401 849-8898.